Gary Mokotoff, Editor
Volume 16, Number 26 | June 28, 2015
Every government puts value on preserving its history. That is why we have national archives. Genealogy preserves history; the history of a family. It cannot be done without access to records, just as historians cannot preserve a nation's history without access to records. It is a greater good than the right to privacy. It is a greater good than the risk of identity theft.
Past issues of Nu? What's New? are archived at http://www.avotaynu.com/nu.htm
Underlined words are links to sites with additional information.
No Issue of Nu? What’s New? Next Week
There will be no issue of Nu? What’s New? next Sunday. My bride of 50 years and I are taking a holiday to celebrate our anniversary.
I wish success and enjoyment to all readers who plan to attend the 35th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy in Jerusalem, Israel, next week. A quick glance at the program and other activities demonstrates it will be yet another great conference.
BBC Strikes Back at EU “Right to be Forgotten” Rule
As previously reported numerous times, the European Union (EU) has declared that Google must remove from its site links that provide objectionable information about its citizens. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has struck back by placing on its website a list of BBC links Google removed as a result of the “right to be forgotten” decision by the European Court of Justice in May 2014.
The BBC will publish each month links to those pages that have been removed from Google's search engine. BBC stated they are doing this primarily as a contribution to public policy. They think it is important that those with an interest in the “right to be forgotten” can ascertain which articles have been affected by the ruling. They hope it will contribute to the debate about this issue. BBC added that they also believe that the integrity of the BBC's online archive is important and, although the pages concerned remain published on BBC Online, removal from Google searches makes parts of that archive harder to find.
Links to the removed pages can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/internet/entries/ 1d765aa8-600b-4f32-b110-d02fbf7fd379. The most recent removal concerns a 2006 article about a man named Richard Holtby who strangled his girlfriend Suzy Healey the weekend before her 40th birthday. BBC does not indicate whether the request to have the offensive article removed came from the strangler, Holtby, or the family of the victim, Healey. From here in the United States, I Googled “Holtby Healey strangle” and got hits for the The Guardian, Daily Mail, and at least 10 other British newspaper sites. Suzy Healey is even listed in FindAGrave.com.
Google, of course, has indexed the above identified BBC web page. Now it remains to be seen if the offended party will request Google to remove its link to the article providing the links. If they do, undoubtedly BBC will retaliate by adding to its list of removed links, the link to the links of offending articles. If that occurs, a complaint may be filed by the offended EU person to remove the link that links to the link of links of removed articles.
The bottom line is that the European Union has opened up a can of worms. Google has demonstrated its reach is so vast, it is impossible for a person to be forgotten even if he becomes a monk in the Himalayas. Rest assured that some day, someone will post to the Internet a list of all monks who live in the Himalayas and Google will index the list.
Thank you Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee, for making me aware of this development, as well as the hundreds of situations she reports to the genealogical community every year about record access matters that affect family history research.
Finding Your Roots Temporarily Suspended by PBS
The family-history-oriented television show Finding Your Roots has been temporarily suspended by the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) after it discovered that the show, produced by Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., has been under the “improper influence” of guest Ben Affleck, a well-known actor. Affleck had requested that mention of his ancestors holding slaves be deleted from the program. PBS stated “PBS and WNET have determined that the series co-producers violated PBS standards by failing to shield the creative and editorial process from improper influence, and by failing to inform PBS or WNET of Mr. Affleck’s efforts to affect program content.” Their complete statement can be found at http://www.pbs.org/about/news/archive/ 2015/fyr-internal-review.
PBS also noted that a commitment to the fourth season of the program will be delayed until “we are satisfied that the editorial standards of the series have been successfully raised to a level in which we can have confidence.”
The Affleck episode will be withdrawn by PBS from all forms of distribution including on-air, digital platforms and home video.
Editorial comment. I find it amazing that Dr. Gates acceded to Affleck’s request. Dr. Gates is Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. He has received much recognition for his work in the area of African American research. I have watched the program numerous times and concluded Dr. Gates preferred as celebrity guests African Americans whose ancestors rose above their former status as slaves to become successful Americans, and Caucasian celebrities whose ancestors were slave holders. I assume that is why he chose Affleck, and it seems strange he gave in to Affleck’s request.
WDYTYA-US Summer Season Will Include J.K. Rowling
Though not officially announced, this summer season of the American version of Who Do You Think You Are will include Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling. Other celebrities who will discover their ancestral past are Tom Bergeron, Bryan Cranston, Ginnifer Goodwin and Alfre Woodard. The season premiere is Sunday, July 26 at 9pm ET. Additional information is at http://tinyurl.com/WDYTYASummer2015.
WDYTYA-UK Summer Season Celebrities Announced
Celebrities to appear on summer season of the UK version of Who Do You Think You Are have been announced. The exact dates were not given. Great British Bake off presenter Paul Hollywood, modeling legend Jerry Hall, Last Tango In Halifax stars Sir Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid, actress Jane Seymour, choirmaster and broadcaster Gareth Malone, stage and television actress Frances de la Tour, news reporter Frank Gardner, actor and writer Mark Gatiss and television presenter Anita Rani all join this year’s series.
Additional information is at http://tinyurl.com/WDYTYA-BBC.
Online Collection of Postcards Depict Scenes of U.S. Towns
Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter notes that USGenWeb has online a collection of postcards consisting of scenes of U.S. towns. The collection is at http://www.usgwarchives.net/special/ppcs/ppcs.html. They may be useful is dressing up a family history book you plan to publish. The site is interested in growing the collection. If you want to contribute postcards in your possession, click the “Submissions” link at the site for additional information.
New FamilySearch Additions
After a three-week hiatus, FamilySearch has announced it has added 15.6M indexed records and images to its site. This announcement has yet to be posted to the FamilySearch blog. The complete list of additions can be found at http://tinyurl.com/FamilySearch062815. It provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, India, Italy, Mexico, Peru, Philippines and the U.S. states of California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, South Dakota and Utah.
The list is substantial, and it is worthwhile to glance through the entire list.
Notable collection updates include 5.5M records from the Iowa 1925 State Census, 2M records from the California Death Index (1905–1939) and 1.2M images from Ontario Marriages (1869–1927).
Note that at the website, announced collections may not be complete for the dates specified and will be added at some later date. Also note that counts shown in the announcement are the number added, not the total number available in the collection, which can be greater.
Australian Ryerson Index Now Has 5M Entries
A 2010 edition of Nu? What’s New? noted the existence of the Ryerson Index of death and probate notices in Australian newspapers. It is an ongoing project that now exceeds 5M entries. Because the Index was originally created by the Sydney Dead Persons Society, its strength lies in notices from New South Wales newspapers—including in excess of 1M notices from the Sydney Morning Herald. However, the representation from papers from other states continues to grow, with additional papers being regularly added, so that the Index can now be considered an Australian index. For example, a probate notice of a distant Mokotow cousin appears in the index. He lived in Melbourne which is in the state of Victoria.
The Ryerson Index is located at http://www.ryersonindex.org. Its home page includes a link to an Australian cemetery index located at http://austcemindex.com. This index claims to have 2M entries.
DNA Testers: Be Patient
Israel Pickholtz has written an excellent article in his blog about the frustration people are having when DNA testing does not locate previously unknown relatives. His conclusion is to be patient.
He states, “…the realistic view is that with only five years of autosomal testing in the various companies' databases, we should not think that we are testing to find our relatives. We are testing so that when our relatives test someday, we will be there waiting to be found. In the meantime, we check our new matches every week or two. That ‘someday’ may be this week.”
It reminds me of the early days of the JewishGen Family Finder. Before it was turned over to JewishGen to be placed online, it had only 2,000 subscribers. Matches were rare. Now it has more than 100,000 subscribers. Matches are commonplace.
You can read his blog at http://allmyforeparents.blogspot.com/2015/06/ lets-be-realistic.html.
Deceased Online Has Entries of Burials in UK and Ireland.
The website Deceased Online, located at http://www.deceasedonline.com, has millions of entries for burials in the UK and Ireland. There is no indication of the total size of the collection but, as an example, there are 478 entries for persons named Cohen. Soon to be added are:
• 5M digitized burial and cremation records from UK authorities and the National Archives.
• 4M records are currently in the process of being digitized from 17 more burial and cremation authorities.
• There are advanced talks with a further 100 authorities about bringing nearly 14M more records to the website.
It is a fee-for-service site, but information provided at no charge includes death date and place of burial. For a fee further information might include:
• Burial and cremation register entries in computerized form
• Digital scans of register pages
• Grave details and other interments in a grave (key to making new family links)
• Pictures of graves and memorials
• Maps showing the exact locations of graves and memorials
Reminder: Have You Signed the Genealogists’ Declaration of Rights?
With all the talk about privacy rights by other interest and political groups, the genealogical community created its own “Genealogists’ Declaration of Rights” last May. The Declaration of Rights is a statement advocating open access to federal, state, and local public records. The Declaration affirms America’s long history of open public records, which has been threatened the last few years over concerns about identity theft and privacy. Genealogists advocate the right of access to records held by government agencies including but not limited to vital records (births, marriages, deaths, divorces); land conveyances and mortgages; tax assessments; guardianships; probate of estates; criminal proceedings; suits of law and equity; immigration; military service and pensions; and acts of governmental entities. Genealogists further advocate that they need to be allowed access to original records when photocopies, microfilm, digital images, or other formats are insufficient to establish clear text, context or completeness of the record. The rights of genealogists specified in the Declaration object to numerous barriers created to deny them access to records. We cannot have our voice heard in Congress without showing we are a formidable number of voters. Readers can read and sign the Declaration at http://tinyurl.com/GenealgyDoR. Do so now!
Getting each edition of Nu? What’s New? past spam checkers is not an easy task. With the publication of each issue, I get a log of ISPs that have rejected the issue thinking it is spam. There then is the chore of writing to them to release the issue. The most common word to appear in “Nu? what’s New?” that seems to upset spam checkers is “million.” Starting with this issue, the word will be replaced with the letter “M.”
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